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UN report: human rights violations in CAR may be war crimes

[JURIST] A new report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] claims that human rights violations within the Central African Republic (CAR)[BBC profile] may amount to war crimes. The report maps 13 years of violence in the country dating from 2003-2015. The 13-year period examined by the report was marked by major political crises, conflict between the government and armed groups, and between rival armed groups. According to the report,

A large number of civilians were victims of extrajudicial executions and sexual and gender-based violence; many others were maimed, tortured or severely ill-treated, raped, forcibly displaced or disappeared. Thousands of children were recruited by armed groups. Many civilians had their property pillaged and homes destroyed, and were thus deprived of their economic, social and other fundamental human rights. Hundreds of thousands were internally displaced, while others fled to neighboring countries. Civilians were too often denied access to humanitarian assistance and the ability to live in dignity.
The report concludes that the majority of the 620 incidents listed constitute serious international human rights violations and many of these violations could also be deemed war crimes. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] stated [press briefing] "the mapping report on the Central African Republic lays bare the staggering suffering of the people of this mineral-rich country which is among the poorest in the world."

Violence has persisted in the CAR since the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted former president François Bozize [BBC profile] in March 2013. In November UNICEF [official website] called for aid to approximately 1.2 million children distressed by conflict [JURIST report] in the CAR. In January 2015 members of a UN investigatory commission reported that crimes against humanity have been widely committed by all parties to the conflict in the CAR, prompting the commission to call for the establishment of an international court [JURIST report] to objectively investigate and prosecute crimes. Earlier that month the UN published a report stating that violent acts committed in the CAR constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity [JURIST report] but not genocide. Despite this finding, members of the international community maintain that there is much work to be done [JURIST op-ed] in the nation.

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